The Jedi Civil War

June 11, 2010

A new timeline holorecord was released on the Star Wars: The Old Republic website this morning, as part of the Friday update.

Malak to Revan: Bring it!

Most of the content is already known; if you have played Knights of the Old Republic, this will be a nice trip down memory lane as the timeline summarizes the game nicely (incidentally, if you haven’t and don’t want to get spoiled for it you should probably avoid the holorecord and this post). It’s a big part of the history, so it’s clear they had to include it and link the classic Star Wars RPG to the upcoming MMO.

We already know the canon Revan ended up a light-sided male, and with this timeline Bioware has pretty much made that the final call. In the words of RobChestney from the dev team: “That said, if you played KotOR, and experienced it differently, please use your imagination to make it work.” I’ll say that’s easy enough to understand. Because both games share the same universe and take place during the Old Republic era, some degree of canon has to be established and maintained, otherwise it’ll be a complete gong show. Why some people find that difficult to accept, I don’t know.

It does, however, make me wonder how the game will approach the matter of continuity for all people playing and existing in the same game world. With the class storylines and all these “choices that matter” at stake, how will they address the fact that one player can potentially experience or remember the same event in a completely different way than another? I can see how this can be dealt with from a technical standpoint, but it’ll be a much bigger challenge if you’re also trying to work these events into canon.

Back to the topic of the timeline, I’ll say even though more has been revealed on Revan and Malak, a lot of questions still remain. What did the Sith Emperor say or do to them to make them join the dark side? And what happened to Revan after the war when he went out alone into deep space? Without any word of his fate, one can speculate to no end. Dare I hope there will be an epic quest in SWTOR to find out what ultimately happened to this legendary character?


  1. Yeah Bioware makes me angry with their “canon Revan” “canon Shepard” if they want to make open ended games they need to leave them open ended or else they are negating their open ends and belittling the choices they offer players in previous games.

    • Oddly, I have no problems with this when they do it with single player games, whether or not they are stand alone or in a trilogy. I very much appreciated that I was able continue where I left off from Mass Effect, but I also know establishing a “canon Shepard” was necessary for when people play ME2 without having played the first game.

      It gets a little messy when you extend a story like that into an MMO though (or a movie in the case of Mass Effect). I makes me concerned in that case, because I want to play in a persistent MMO world and it WILL bother me in this case if whatever I do in SWTOR can be negated for the sake of canon. It defeats the whole purpose of an online game and having your choices matter.

      • Like you, I’m alright with the game devs making a ‘canon’ choice. I just wish that Revan had been female, and the Exile male. In my opinion, that’d have been a little more awesome.

  2. Blizzard has done the same thing with Warcraft. I believe it was in Warcraft II that the player could win the Human campaign and win the Orc campaign, but in the canon, the humans won, and put the Orc into camps. Which in turn led to the events of Warcraft III. Ultimately that’s the difference between a game and a story. Stories have to move forward in one direction.

    I don’t know how Bioware will do the “choices that matter” in TOR. Blizz’ attempts at that (e.g. Aldor vs. Scryer) ended up being choices about gear more than story. Will they attempt phasing the way Blizz has done somewhat with WotLK?

    I think of “choices that matter” being more along the line of moral choices; something very hard to make meaningful in a game environment.

    • Well, I was thinking “choices that matter” more in the line of the example of “Kill the captain” vs. “Don’t kill the captain”, the situation that was shown in the developer walkthrough. Player A might complete that flashpoint with the captain killed, Player B might not, and thus will experience and remember that encounter very differently. To make this possible, is the game going to be filled with small events like that which won’t make much of an impact on the game in the long run? But then if that’s the case, doesn’t that go against the whole “choices that matter” claim? But if these little events turn out culminating into something bigger in the end, then how is it going to work out if everyon in this persistent world experienced the same events differently? Ack, I’m just confusing myself now, I’ll just trust Bioware and leave them to reveal the answers in time 😛

      • If you think of it more from a historical perspective: often times the things we do as individuals matter to us and those around us, but not so much the grand history of the world. I think MMOs have to be this way; the “Big Things” are being done/directed by NPCs, like Tirion Fordring, or Aragorn, or Miral Paris. You can’t have players making that huge an impact and then suddenly having to quit the game for work or school or other RL event.

      • Oh, I don’t think “choice matters” mean that players will be able to affect the main story line and thus other people’s stories, that’s not what I meant at all…

        I guess my concern is immersion. Like, if a big event happens, whether or not it’s driven by an NPC, my character will be like, this is what i did to contribute to it. It happens in World of Warcraft, and it works in this case because everyone’s story is the same. But I can see it working differently in SWTOR, where choices have to matter, but at the same time the consequences can’t be significant enough to affect the open world and bleed into other players’ or class stories. There’s always the possibility players in the same group might see different versions of the same thing.

  3. In principle, I like the TOR timeline pieces. I’m a historian, a story teller, and a lore buff, and their cool artwork is only icing on the cake. That said, I’ve tended not to watch many of them.

    After having watched the piece you linked, I’m a little disappointed. For me, Revan’s story lost a little of its charm and magic when I learned he’d actually encountered the Sith Empire, and confronted their Emperor, and been seduced to the Dark Side. I very much liked what happened beyond the galactic rim as a cypher and unknown – Revan and Malak, great heroes of the Republic, push too far, become too wrapped up in war and death, and return changed men. There was a “Heart of Darkness” theme, and I liked that.

    Furthermore, KOTOR II complicates Revan’s story a little. A large part of the second game is understanding Revan’s absence, and why he did what he did. You find out that even as a Sith, he was something of a tragic hero, with his own plans separate from the that of what ever lay beyond the pall. And it wasn’t until the very end of the game that you learn there is a ‘true’ Sith Empire that Revan was preparing to fight.

    • You’re right, I didn’t think about that, how their complete fall to the dark side now can be attributed to an actual person, the Sith Emperor. I agree it would have been much cooler if they had left that ambiguous, it’s creepier and more interesting to imagine the two of them experiencing something mysterious somewhere in the depths of space to make them undergo such a change.

      And with regards to KOTOR II, the devs sort of took the lazy way out there…they’ve pretty much said that they acknowledge the events in that game but won’t be letting them drive their decisions for SWTOR. The reason given is that the story of KOTOR was in the forefront whereas the events of KOTOR II were more covert and “behind the scenes”, allowing them to brush it off if they wanted to, more or less. While I understand that KOTOR II was made by Obsidian and that it’s Bioware’s prerogative to make the call here, I can imagine it being a disappointment to fans of the sequel.

      • You hit the nail right on the head. The sense of mystery was awesome.

  4. I’m on board with you when it comes to having a canon version. When you have male/female and light/dark how are you supposed to keep that straight for everyone and still have a strong narrative?

    the two of them had clearly fallen a long ways to the dark side during the mandalorian wars, I don’t think it’s cut and dry to say that clearly there is a single person who turned them.

    the fact that they were chasing the mandalorians after pretty much already winning says a lot.

  5. I’m with you on the canon version of events. When considering light/dark, man/woman, how are you supposed to keep all of that straight and yet have a strong narrative that bioware is known for? not possible from a writing perspective.

    I’d actually have to say that the revan/malak encounter with the sith emperor doesn’t bother me too much. They had already fallen pretty far during the mandalorian wars, chasing the mandalorians after they had mostly won says something. However there is somethign to be said for mystery.

    • @Anon/Hunter – I know Revan and Malak already had their own designs when they went their own way with the Mandalorian Wars, but something about the way the Bioware holorecord says “the fall of Revan and Malak to the dark side was complete” right after they encountered the emperor made it sound to me that whatever he did or said to them was the critical juncture, the point of no return. Maybe I’m reading too much into it 😛

      • anonymous is apparently me, i thought my anon post didn’t post because i wasn’t logged in. you can delete it.

  6. I’m really digging the timeline thing for SW:TOR especially the voice acting and images. I’d like to see something like that for WoW and Everquest… and in fact even Conan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: